Christmas at WDW or How the Other Half Does It 12/11 - 12/18

DH, DD, and myself

What, When, and Where
Driving from Knoxville to WDW on 12/11. Staying off site at a condo we’ve used previously by Celebration. 3 parks days, no hoppers, and 1 MVMCP.

DH was originally attending a conference in UO (11/13-11/19) which DD and I were tagging along for but then, after almost 3 years of avoiding it, we got COVID and had to cancel. DD was sad so as a make up, I suggested we take a weekend trip (11/18-11/21) to visit Biltmore which she has been asking to visit for years. When DH realized 2 hotel nights plus Biltmore tickets were going to be about $1k (and the fact I really don’t think he wanted to see Biltmore at all anyway), he said (11/11) “Why not spend the money and go to Disney for Christmas”.

About Us
Last trip was Nov 2019 with Traveling Homeschoolers. Previously, trips were typically summer (July 4th) with a few pop in visits here and there. Because we had no plans to visit, I have fully and completely ignored all things G+ and have had to catch up quickly on strategies. I still only vaguely understand what I’m doing but will try out BG1 as it seems so much better than MDE.

12/11 - DD and DH are both not feeling well. No COVID, no Strep but sore throats and general blahs. So excited for a 10 hour drive with DH who has zero patience for bad drivers. We hit the road around 7:30 with projected arrival time of 5:17 pm.

Drizzling rain, and overcast for the entire drive. All in all, this ended up being one of our best drives through Atlanta. In the summer we usually sacrifice an hour and drive down via NC, SC, Jacksonville but in the winter when we could face sudden snow or rock slides in the mountains we suck it up and just drive straight down I-75. We made our first stops at Bucee’s which people at home have been raving about. That bathroom stop in N. GA was amazing and Bucee’s was an attraction all it’s own but our 2nd stop at the next Bucee’s almost ruined the drive. Wow, what a crowded nightmare. We arrive at our condo at 6:15. We order GrubHub (was not the best idea) and place grocery order for the morning. Tomorrow is AK with no plans to arrive any earlier than 11 or 12 with the way DD and DH are feeling.


Have fun! Hope you’re feeling better soon!


Ugh! Getting sick right before a trip stinks! I’m so sorry to hear you both are feeling poorly and hope the rest last night helped with healing. If not, embrace a light touring day!


Following! Hope you have a great day in AK!


I’m the early riser and the only planner so I set my alarm for 6:50 knowing full well G+ would not be necessary if rope dropping but I’m buying it anyway because my crew does not like walking, waiting, standing, heat - clearly FL and Disney are the perfect choice for us. I know them but they don’t exactly know themselves. Someday they will agree when I suggest a cruise.

I can’t sleep because my anxiety about making the day work for themnis too high. I’m up before the alarm. I buy G+ for us and wait for 7 am. I need Navi anytime between 2 and 4ish, same for FOP, KS around 1ish. Trying to stack AK for later in the day is awful. I finally use TP chat suggestions and book Navi for 10:40 withnplans to modify to later time. I finally booked that at 8:20 so next pick will be around the next drop. Purchased FOP at 8 am with a return time of 3:30.

Groceries arrived early and DH and DD are still sleeping. I continue to wait, refresh and watch.

On another note, the place we are staying at we have stayed twice before we love the space for the price ( 2 bedrooms, King master with en suite walkin shower separate huge soaker tub and balcony access, living room/dining room with pull out sleeper sofa, full kitchen with washer dryer, 2nd bedroom has 2 twins with separate bathroom. TVs in both bedrooms and livingroom - $830ish for 7 nights) and location (Celebration about 5-10 from parking booths of parks) has been remodeling. Originally it was kinda tacky with a safari them that was dated and over played. Now it seema to be some how associated with Hilton and the new space is much nicer. I called and requested a remodeled room so we could see. New paint, updated cabinets (they’re still cheap but no biggie) new furniture and lighting fixtures. I’ll try to grab some pictures in a bit for anyone interested even though our stuff is everywhere. DD elected to sleep on the fold out instead of the twin so I’ll let you know what she thinks of the comfort level. She normally hates pull outs.

2nd Bedroom

2nd Bathroom


DD is all about the snacks and food this trip. We have done sit down meals before but they are not our favorite so we will be all about the quick service and snack carts this trip. What are your favorite foods in those catgories at AK that we should definitely try today?

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Master bath



I was there then too!!!


We had such a great time with that group! We had planned to go again with them in 2020, spoiler alert: it didn’t happen LOL

We will definitely go with them again in the future.


I hope to go 2024


Oh no! Why not? ::sarcasm alert::


Flame Tree BBQ: bbq
Satu’li Canteen: blueberry cream cheese mousse
Tamu Tamu Refreshments: dole whip (and for the adults, dole whip with rum)


Thank you for the suggestions! We tried the blueberry mousse in Pandora and it was huge hit! So yummy!


Where to tomorrow?

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Updated our title because I always feel like such an imposter here in TP. Everyone always seems to have such a great grasp on Disney and effective touring and we are definitely still flying by the seat of our pants even after numerous visits. So we are, in fact, the other half who don’t fully know what we’re doing LOL

We arrived at AK around 12:15. I pur hased our tickets online so we stopped off at the ticket booth for our cards. We had original magic bands but I have no idea where they are. No one really wanted to use their phone toncheck in so we stopped and bought new MagicBands. I had stacked Navi, FOP, KS, and Dinosaur before we arrived. Modify was AMAZING! I had to use it all day to push LL times based on our speed. It was awesome.

We started with Dino, it was my most recent LL so I could book something else when we tapped in and I got EE. We played a few games (DD won a Mickey) then started around to EE. Stopped off and got the Photo Pass Zoom photo which is so cool. DH and DD decided they did not want to ride EE so I canceled their LL and rode by myself. We walked to Africa and had mobile order QS from Harambe Market. When we finished we went to KS and tapped in. We were eligible for a new LL after EE but I didn’t know of anything else they would want to ride so I didn’t book anything. In hindsight, i should have booked Outpost Meet and Greet as DD asked for it at the end of the night. After KS, we strolled to Pandora and did DD’s number 1 ride NRJ and then FOP. At the suggestion of SirLadyGregg we stopped for the blue berry cream cheese mousse and we were not disappointed. So yummy! While we ate I grabbed a completely unnecessary LL for Bug’s Life and then made our final purchases and headed for the car.

No one was too tired and we stayed at a relaxed pace with very little criss crossing all day which was the goal. So still lots we could have seen and done but we hit the priorities and that was enough.

Tomorrow we sleep in and will do MVMCP tomorrow night. We’ll be early to enter right at 4 since this is our only day at MK this trip. We’ve done this party once before and loved the short wait times. We are not show or parade people so if we catch something, great, if not, that’s OK too.


I’m so glad you enjoyed the blueberry mousse!


Sounds like a nice relaxing start to your trip. Enjoy the party!


Catching up for the past 2 days and sharing a strategy for EPCOT that worked for this Galaxy user.

Tuesday 12/13 - we slept in as much as possible. Since we only have MVMCP for today. We made the tough decision to rearrange our park days based on Thursday’s forecast. Wednesday was supposed to be a rest day with only a dinner reservation at DS at 7 with local family to worry about, so it would be fine to be out for the full party time. Sadly the rain had other plans and we did not want to risk our HS day being ruined by rain. So I reluctantly moved EPCOT from Friday to Wednesday knowing full well this crew would NOT be able to get it together to arrive to EPCOT any earlier than 11 or 11:30.

Back to the party though. Since this was to be our only MK day, I wanted to be sure we were there and ready to enter at 4 pm. We actally were at the gates and had to wait almost 45 minutes before they let us in - oops, my bad, I severely overestimated their ability to get out the door and how long transportation would take.

DD(14) has had this bizarre obsession with Country Bear Jamboree for the past 2ish years. Something about some song Big Al sings? And Carousel of Progress is also a favorite so I planned our night to start with those shows. We entered the party and got our ornaments (so nice, really better than I was expecting) and went straight to CoP. Then we crossed the Hub to CBJ and she loved it. In the 30+ years I’ve been coming here, I don’t think I have ever seen it before. We came out to the Adventureland Parade which was cute, followed it for awhile and then broke off to go do Mickey’s Philharmagic. This ends and gets us right up to 6 pm when I planned a dinner break while the day crowd was ushered out. I had a touring plan I was using for all of this but I think I just don’t know what I’m doing in the app because as I marked things off, I would re optimize and eventually it no longer let me “submit wait times”, “Time your wait”, or “mark step complete”
If you know what I did wrong, please let me know. After a quick bite at Cosmic Rays, I abandoned the touring plan that I clearly messed up and started winging it shooting for the priorities. We left there and went to PotC. Stopped so DD could visit with Jack Sparrow then we rode. Grabbed our treat at Tortuga Tavern. Unpopular opinion: all of the cookies are pretty blech, I kinda liked the chocolate chip but I honestly love all chocolate chip cookies. The hot chocolate was good though and DD loved the egg nog. We left PotC and DD wanted a picture with Al
Aladdin and Abu and then with Moana. I seriously hate waiting in line for characters but remember when I wanted to do it too so we waited. After Moana, we went on the Jingle Cruise with Skipper Emily spelled H E L P M E and had a wonderful voyage. We then went to HM, my personal favorite, had our picture made at the exit with Zero, grabbed a treat at Columbia Harbour and went to IASM, another DD favorite. It’s about 10 pm now because the fireworks are going off while we are in small world. We leave small world and hop in line for SDMT (just DD and I - DH is battling a bad back and knee so trying to save it up for new rides her really wants to do even though he lovea this one). After SDMT we hit up Barnstormer ans ride 3 times without leaving our seats. After, we getbin line to meet Santa Goofy who was meeting at the exit. We walk down toward Buzz Lightyear and I run into Cosmic Rays to grab DD a treat. We ride Buzz then head to the gate. We stop off at the emporium to get DD a souvenir, take a few pics by the big tree and out we go. It’ about 12:30 when we get to the car. Everyone is tired but satisfied and DH starts talking about MVMCP becoming a yearly tradition for us. He’s clearly delusional with exhaustion LOL. We get back to our condo and I start trying to figure out how to make this EPCOT day work. I convince them, finally, that rope drop is a horrible idea and that if we can get there close to 11 I can make it work. Between us friends, that is purely theoretical on my part because I know Remy’s and GotG are HUGE on our want list and I have NEVER had to doba VQ nor try for a super popular LL yet. My firat experience with G+ ever was our day at AK on Monday and while I felt successful, I don’t think G+ for AK was necessary nor highly competitive. As I try to doze off at 2am, I feel that I am about to enter a trial by fire unprepared LOL. Needless to say, sleep eludes me most of the night because anxiety about 7am is my constant companion.

6:45 am Wednesday 12/14 - turn off that 6:50 alarm, it’s obviously not needed. I was smart enough to go ahead and purchase G+ before trying to sleep. I also decided to try a method of grabbing GotG VQ and Remy’s that I hadn’t seen mentioned before. I’ll share what I did for anyone else who wants to try it. I was worried it wouldn’t work but it actually worked a little too well LOL. I managed to book Remy’s for 9:05 and was in VQ group 2! I had to obviously modify Remy and changed it to 1:45. I tried to go back to sleep but it was restless. We all were up and getting ready by 9:30ish and we made it to the park by about 11:30. For our 11 am pick I booked SE, when we tapped in I grabbed Mission Space (DH) did not ride. We left SE and went to GotG. We were over 2 hours late for our VQ return time and tapped blue but went through without issue. DD was super anxious about GotG because she does not love roller coasters but she loved it as did the rest of us. What an awesome ride! We then hit Mission Space and when we tapped for it, I grabbed TT for immediate return. After tapping for TT, I grabbed Soarin for immediate return. We had to grab a snack after Soarin b/c everyone was starving. We stopped at Seasons which is normally one of my favorite places to grab lunch (so much variety and VEGETABLES! I always feels so veggie deprived visiting WDW and doing only QS). We grabbed high sugar stuff for a quick boost to get to Remy’s. We had a blueberry muffin, banana, chocolate croissant, and cookie then off too Remy’s. We tapped green at 3 mins after our return time (2:45). Remy’s was such a cute and fun ride! We all loved it! DH really wanted to break in Germany for a beer so we started our trek around. I always like walking through the big store in Japan. Everyone is usually so tired by the time we get there and I hate making them wait for me (even if they are sitting) so I only ever run through to see what’s there and never buy anything. Seems pointless now that I really think about but oh well, I do it any way. I have this great memory of being about 5 and my dad buying me a kimono there. Man I loved that Kimono lol.

DD had heard that sometimes you can meet Bolt in the American Pavillion so we slowed down to look for him. We didn’t seem him but as we were leaving, we stumbled upon a “characters in training” meet in the alley just to the left of the American Pavillion. DD was able to get pictures with Big Al (I thought she was going to loose her mind), Launchpad, Mickey, Pluto, Donald, Chip and Dale, and Goofy was there but we skipped him since we saw him last night. Meets with all of them took less than 15 mins! Such a lucky find. You can try catching this meet around 3pm if you happen to be around. We’ve had good luck with these in the past. We caught one at HS back behind ToT in 2019 and met Snow White and Dopey!

We finally made it to Germany! DH got the Heifiweizen (our favorite summer beer we discovered here in 2019), DD got a giant pretzel, and I got a Barenjager with coke. It is a honey bourbon mixed with your choice of frozen lemonade or frozen coke. It was tasty and refreshing. At this point everyone is beat. The late night with no rest is starting to get to us. I figured we needed to hit the exit no later than 5:30 to meet our local family at Rainforest Cafe by our 7 pm reservation. We head to the exit. DD selects a souvenir at the shop at the entrance to WS and as we pass the connections gift shop, I spy a Mr. Toad coffee cup for my mom who is house/pet sitting for us while we are gone. We are in our car by 4:45 - I tried to grab a FES LL before we left but they were not going to wait for the drop and it was really not a big want, I was really just curious since we had never seen it before. We rested in the car for abour 45 mins at DS before walking to the restaurant. We picked Rainforest because we were meeting our 4 year old grand - not because we love it LOL. I can think of a million other places that would taste better and be cheaper but he loved it so I guess that makes it a success.

There are severe thunderstorms and tornadoes predicted today so we are taking our much needed rest day. Tomorrow we hit HS which we love and are excited to ride Rise since it was not open on our last trip.

So here is how I got Remy for 9:05 and VQ group 2 at the same time. When gettingbour tickets at AK on Monday, the cast member asked me if I knew how to get GotG for our scheduled EPCOT day. I told her I knew to try at 7 am and if not successful then to tey again at 1 pm but that I had to be quick. So she said, just have it pulled up and at 7 am just “tap, tap” don’t wait, just “tap, tap” the bottom and you’ll be all set. It was like she was speaking a foreign language because I had never seen the VQ process. I wish had picture of everything but I didn’t think about it. So at 1 am when I purchased G+ for EPCOT. When I did that, I clicked on the GotG VQ (or maybe it automatically took me to that page? I can’t remember). Anyway, the screen gave me this message about at 6 am I could confirm my party and at 8 am I could refresh and join. At this point, I did not see any of my party listed but the bottom of the page had a “Refresh” button at the bottom. Finally I understood what that cast member said. I assumed she meant I hit this button at 7 and the button changed to “join” and I hit it again. What she was saying was just click twice, don’t wait to see “join”. I took her worda on total faith. But I still had the issue of getting Remy. This entire trip I had been using BG1 because it is just so much simplier than MDE. So I had the idea, what if I use this MDE for GotG VQ and have BG1 for Remy. If I can have them both open on my phone screen at the same time, maybe I can click them at the same time. At this point I need to tell you I use a Samsung Galaxy 21 with Chrome. While DD is an Apple user, I know nothing about Apple products and, sorry, I hate them and want to know nothing about them so I don’t know if you can do this same thing with them. When I view all of my open apps in Carousel View, I can click at the top of the app and have options such as “Keep App Open”, “View in Split View”, “View in Pop Up” etc. Different apps have different options. I selected “Keep Open” for MDE and “Open in Pop Up” for Chrome which is where I was viewing BG1. When I open the pop up on top of the keep open app, I can touch and manipulate both at the same time. At 7am, (I watched my phone time turn 6:59 and just started counting backward lol) I didn’t look at anything, I tap tapped the bottom of the MDE screen and then tapped the Remy time. I had no idea what I got until it was over and then looked. It worked great and that’s all that mattered LOL. YMMV. I made video today of what the process looks like so I’ll try posting it for you to see.


Ok, I can’t figure out how to post the video I made so here are some screen shots of what I was talking about with the “pop up” and “keep open”.


She has excellent taste in attractions!